Tuesday, June 10, 2008
I felt like I had aged thirty years in the last year. Things were finally quiet now and I was trying to establish normality again and find things to keep myself occupied so I wouldn’t dwell on my thoughts. I stayed in Whitegate and it became my new residence though it would take awhile for it to feel like home.
As for Hope I made the very painful decision to keep my distance from her for awhile. People would surely be watching for me to be around an infant and I couldn’t put her at risk. I planned to play with her and love her as a family friend once things settled down but she couldn’t know I was her mother until she was an adult. It was much too big of a secret to ask a child to keep.
“You look lost in your thoughts again.” Kjarbo smiled as he sat down and touched the top of my nose.
I nodded and smiled. The sun was rising over the walls of the Al Zahbi district and I was sitting on top of one of the highest ones. I loved the way the long rays of the sunrise made the stones glow warmly. It was a beautiful city and always active and busy. It was growing on me.
Kjarbo handed me a small plush dhalmel with a stitched on smile. “It’s on loan to you from Hope.” He smiled. “She is doing well and growing strong.”
I leaned over and rested my head on his arm as I smelled the little toy and glowed with joy to hold something my little angel had held. She lived in Windurst now with Yamari and Zhirin and I longed to see her more often but I was greatly comforted to know she was well watched over and loved by many people.
“I’m have been training with Maat.” I told him. “He seems to think I am nearly ready for my final test.” Maat is the undisputed master trainer of highly talented adventures. His expertise covers all disciplines to the point where some question if he is not endowed with supernatural or godly powers. I just find him aggravating but I have the good sense to respect him for his genius.
“I have no doubt you’ll be up to any task.” Kjarbo smiled.
I had to laugh and smile. “You spoil me with praise. You spoil me with sweets. You dote on me and stand by like my unfailing protector. It makes me blush.”
He looked down.
“Is something wrong?” I asked.
“No, not really but I came out here to tell you I have to leave for awhile. A few weeks I think. A friend of mine from my life as a fisherman is in need of help. I’m taking Jen with me.”
“Jen? I thought she would want to be here now with Beldin showing up out of nowhere.”
“I don’t trust him and I can tell something is bothering her about him. She’s been very upset. She needs the time away.” He said as he brushed my hair behind my ear carefully. “If you need me I’ll come rushing back.”
“It’s ok. I’ll be busy training. Today I plan on practicing my stealing and evading skills on the goblins near Bibiki Bay.”
“That sounds like a dangerous thing to do alone.” He frowned.
“Not at all. They’re not very smart. I practice my archery on them, steal their gold when they get near and then hide. They’re not bright enough to find me and they give up and wander off. It’s a great way to vent frustration. New shinny gold coins always make me happy.”
He chuckled and stood up. “Well then, good day and good luck hunting my lady. I must be off to catch my boat.” He bowed.
I stood up and hugged him. “Be safe and quick to return.”
“As you wish.” He kissed the top of my head and hurried off towards the south port.
I sighed and sat down with the little toy. I decided now was a good time to start on my own day. I tucked the little toy into my vest so it could snuggle near my heart. I had a lot of work to do to prepare for my next lesson with Maat.
Monday, June 02, 2008
I found myself on a boat once again and feeling rather sentimental about it though I didn’t say so out loud. Some things I preferred to hold secretly in my heart these days. It was early morning now and I could hear the shore birds welcoming the boat as we grew nearer to port.
I reluctantly passed Hope back to Yamari where she wouldn’t be noticed as unusual. No one thought twice about a hume woman with a hume looking baby. I had already counted her little fingers and toes countless times on our long ride over. It never got old just to hold her and look at her tiny sleeping face. I laid my head on Yamari’s shoulder and put my hand over the tiny girl in her arms.
By some cruel joke of the gods I still looked pregnant so I kept concealed under loose mage robes. They were much more cumbersome than my usual clothing but comforting and warm and I was starting to like the feeling of being unseen.
The boat slowed to a stop and I heard the thump of the ramp extending to the dock. “Let’s hope there isn’t a royal knight waiting for us.” I only said what everyone already was thinking I just wanted to break the nervous silence that had settled around us the entire ride over.
Gurok smiled confidently. “If they’re here we are ready for them.” He clutched the sword at his side as if to show me he did indeed know where it was and how to get to it quickly. I couldn’t help but smile back.
All around cheers of agreement and encouragement bounced around the cabin from friends who came along to make sure things went well. I smiled broadly. These were all people I loved deeply. They were family to me and our near death and back adventures had only made us all the closer.
We exited the boat without incident. I don’t know why there would not be someone representing San d’ Oria checking these traveling hot spots but I slipped by without making eye contact with anyone and Hope only got oh and ahs from admiring attendants. I had kind of hoped that no one would notice a baby at all but we were safe all the same and it felt good to breath a sigh of relief.
“I have a house in the residential area not far from here. We will be safe there while we figure out what to do next.” Tastywaffles said as he looked back to make sure we were following. “I spend a lot of time in this area. People tend to mind there own business here.”
“Yes and no.” Someone said. I turned around to stand nose to nose with Beldin and nearly screamed in surprise.
“Much too convenient timing.” Gurok said as he drew his sword. “How did you know we would be here?”
“I didn’t actually but you stand out. I couldn’t miss you.” He said.
I hugged him open mouthed and still in shock. “We thought you were dead. Where were you?” Jenjen was frozen.
“Can we wait till we’re inside to chatter?” Tastywaffles said looking a little annoyed. He was right.
The people of this area dressed strangely and the buildings were like nothing I had ever seen before. I felt like I was in an entirely different world. It was perfect. Things were going to change.
As soon as we entered Tastywaffles’ house Beldin was the first to fall onto a long sofa and sprawl out like he was already at home. I noticed he winked at Jenjen and patted the seat next to him to invite her to sit with him but she turned away from him. I wondered what could be running through her head right now. I made note to find out when the time was right. Kjarbo as always was keeping a protective eye over his sister.
I sighed deeply in relief and sat down in a large pile of plush pillows and reached for Hope. Kammy was already here and nearly crushed us both as she leapt to hug me. “You’re safe!” She yelled and stuck her face into the bundle of baby and rubbed her cheeks against Hope in typical mithra fashion.
“Gentle!” I protested as I pushed her enough away to be able to see Hope’s little face again. Kammy’s frowned but obeyed.
“Our moogles are all here.” Tastywaffles announced. “It seems they have a plan.”
The moogles came in and bowed to me as low as they could without touching the floor. “Congratulations on the birth of your daughter Kupo!” My moogle smiled widely as he spun in excitement. “I have met with the HEIR council while you were away and we have a plan for you.”
“HEIR?” I asked. “What do you mean.?”
“Well Kupo, a need arose to protect the tiniest of heroes from those who feared them so the Hume Elvaan Infant Rescue was formed to help. I told them about you and they were very excited to help. They don’t get many opportunities to actually do something since they are not needed very often.”
“Very pleased to meet you both, Kupo!” another moogle chimed in excitedly.
“So what do we do now?” I asked. Kjarbo knelt down next to me and gave me a plate with a steak and carrots along with a tall mug of chocolate milk. He smiled and nodded silently as if to encourage me to eat without interrupting this little meeting.
“Well we need to make Hope disappear Kupo.” Moogle explained.
“You can’t take her away! Not a..!”
Moogle interrupted. “No no, don’t worry Kupo. We don’t want to take her away we just need to make the rulers of San d’Oria and Bastok believe that she..” he hesitated, “not to offend or upset Kupo but.. We just need to make them think she’s dead.”
I clutched Hope tightly and I caught more than one eyebrow raise and hand twitch ready to take a weapon in response to my alarm. “What are you saying?!”
The moogles turned and whispered to each other as their wings fluttered. “HEIR used their numerous connections to obtain a certificate of death for your child Kupo. It says she was still born and unnamed and most importantly, elvaan, Kupo. It just needs to be delivered to San d’Oria. They will not risk a war with West Aht Urhgan by coming here in force to question an official document but I’m sure there will be spies to check on it. We will need to hide her Kupo.”
“I will take the certificate.” Beldin announced. “I have some influence there.”
Someone in the room huffed at him but I couldn’t tell who. I ignored it.
“Thank you Beldin.” I said sincerely. “How do you suggest we hide Hope?” I asked Moogle.
“In the past HEIR has placed babies with families that match what the child looks like. The babies have always taken after one parent or the other Kupo. We can’t leave her to be raised with you or they will surely catch on and protecting her will become very near impossible Kupo.”
“I won’t give her up. Come up with a new plan.” I glared.
“No one is saying that you have to give her up Kupo. Look around at what trusted hume couples you know who would look natural with a new baby. Its best if you are not seen with a child but moogles will always keep you safe in your homes Kupo. It’s our honor to protect and serve Kupo.” He glowed with pride and I was humbled by his selfless kindness.
I only knew one hume couple but I did trust them entirely. Question was would they raise my baby in public so I could keep her close to me in secret? I looked at Yamari and she smiled at me and nodded. She knew she was the only hume woman I knew who was in love with a hume man. She didn’t have a child of her own and I’m sure the thought of caring for my baby must have terrified her but she didn’t show it. Her inner strength shone brightly that day.
She put her arm around me and let Hope grasp her tiny hand around her finger. Keeping Hope safe would be a life long linkshell effort that would bond us together as a family for our entire lives. We had no idea what we had to look forward to but we had full confidence that we could handle it together.